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Chhattisgarh PDS Scam | ED to SC: HC judge sitting in touch with accused through officials

Seeking transfer of probe related to the alleged Civil Supplies Corporation (NAN) scam in Chhattisgarh, the Enforcement Directorate (ED) on Monday told the Supreme Court that “a sitting judge of the High Court was in touch with constitutional authorities who are helping Were. Guilty”.

Two senior IAS officers, Anil Tuteja and Alok Shukla, are among those accused in the alleged multi-crore NAN scam, which came to light in 2015. BJP In Chhattisgarh an investigation was launched after allegations of corruption in the government public distribution system – NAN is the agency in charge of distribution and procurement of food grains.

“Please go through the material. If it comes out in public, it may shake the confidence of the people in the system because of the persons involved. A sitting judge of the High Court was in touch with the constitutional authorities to help the accused. Will your lordship want to make it public,” Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for the ED, told a bench headed by Chief Justice of India UU Lalit, as the counsel for the state government objected to the submission of material in a sealed cover. Was expressed.

Senior advocate Mukul Rohatgi, appearing for the respondents, submitted that the judge was not above the law.

Mehta said that he was leaving the decision to the court, “If it is to be made public then I will not oppose it”. He said the ED has material which shows that the prime accused in the case were “in touch with a constitutional functionary through an arbitrator before he was granted anticipatory bail” in the corruption cases against him.

“It has come to the fore that a senior functionary of the Government of Chhattisgarh” is actively involved in diluting the case of predicament, i.e., corruption against both the main accused during the trial and the accused “holds a senior administrative position” in the present government and The general administration continues to look after the department,” he said.

Listing other charges, including tampering of documents, influencing witnesses and threatening the officer who sanctioned the prosecution of the accused, Mehta said: “When I (ED) realized that the two accused” were in close contact with the two. Were. Constitutional functionaries played a role in granting anticipatory bail and I (ED) came to know that they were recording typed statements of witnesses, I (ED) moved this court.

The Supreme Court issued a notice in December 2021, but thereafter the matter did not come up for hearing, although it had mentioned “not less than six times” and filed a written note “not less than 10 times”, which said It was that the trial was progressing and the case was becoming fruitless, Mehta said.

Responding to the pleas, Rohatgi said: “You have read this to prejudice my case. But you don’t enter the content. It’s not something that can be taken away from me if you’re going to rely on it.” He said there are Supreme Court rulings against adopting the sealed cover process.

Senior advocate Kapil Sibal said the charge sheet in the case was filed when the BJP government was in power in the state and no fresh investigation was conducted under the Congress government. He said if the ED files the material in a sealed cover, the state would also like to keep some evidence related to 2011 on record.

Allowing both the parties to place the material before it, a bench of Justices S Ravindra Bhat and Justice Ajay Rastogi said: “If we find that the material can be made public, we will certainly give copies to the other party. At this juncture, it appears that it was submitted that the investigation needs to be transferred and this Court issued notice in November 2021. We are in the month of September i.e. 10 months have passed. So in our view, before we allow the trial to end, we should at least make up our mind whether or not we accept this submission. ,

The court said: “We are, at this stage, not saying anything about suspending, shifting the trial, etc., but … before the trial is over and the judgment is pronounced, we must at least make an effort to see that whether there is any substance or not. What the other side is saying and whether it requires any consideration.”

An intervention advocate Prashant Bhushan said that the “investigation leaves much to be desired” and asked for the investigation to be transferred to an independent agency and supervised by a competent court.

The Supreme Court will next hear the matter on September 26.

The alleged multi-crore NAN scam came to the fore during the previous BJP government in Chhattisgarh in 2015, when civil society and the opposition raised allegations of corruption in the public distribution system. Rice mill owners and agents were alleged to have bribed officials to allow substandard rice to be distributed through the state’s PDS.

The government then launched an investigation by the Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) and the Economic Offenses Wing (EOW). Senior IAS officers Anil Tuteja and Alok Shukla were also among the accused in the alleged scam. Shukla was then the chairman of NAN, while Tuteja was its managing director.

Within days of the Congress coming to power in December 2018, Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel announced the formation of an SIT. Shukla and Tuteja, who were absconding since the filing of the chargesheet, had applied for anticipatory bail and were appointed in the government. Shukla, who was about to retire, was given an extension and posted as principal secretary in various departments, including education and skill development, while Tuteja is joint secretary in the commerce and industry department.

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In August 2020, the Chhattisgarh High Court granted him anticipatory bail, which has now been challenged by the ED in the Supreme Court. The ED, in its petition, has stated that “these two main accused persons possess substantial political and administrative power and are very close to the Hon’ble Chief Minister, Chhattisgarh State.”

In its affidavit to the Supreme Court in September 2021, the ED had said that it had “evidence evidence” that the present government helped the two main accused by pressurizing the authorities investigating the case and “relevant and confidential information of the investigation”. Navigating the investigation/report by EOW/ACB with the main accused and by the SIT as per the wishes of both the main accused.

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